Montana Republicans vote to ban trans lawmaker Zooey Zephyr from House floor: ‘An attack on democracy’

Zooey Zephyr during a recording.

Trans politician Zooey Zephyr has been banned from the floor of Montana’s House of Representatives after speaking out against an anti-trans bill.

State officials voted to censure the Missoula lawmaker on Wednesday (26 April) following a chaotic week of pushback against a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for trans youth.

Following a powerful speech by Zephyr, who accused anti-trans lawmakers of having “blood on their hands”, House speaker Matt Regier refused to acknowledge her going forward until she apologised.

Activists then filled the Montana Capitol building’s observation stands during a legislative hearing on Monday (24 April), chanting for state officials to “let her speak”.

Riot police dispersed the crowd – which was looking down on Zephyr raising her switched-off microphone in the area – arresting seven protestors in the process.

The vote means that Zooey Zephyr will no longer be able to speak during House floor debates or even participate in House business for the rest of 2023.

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GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis described the decision as an “attack” on democracy and free speech.

“It’s an assault on democracy to suppress the already marginalised and under-represented voices of LGBTQ+ people and people of colour.

“Speaking up is literally what they were elected to do,” Ellis added. “This news is a strong reminder that our voices are our power. When we speak, extremist lawmakers can’t help but hear us.”

After being sworn in as Montana’s first trans lawmaker in January, Zooey Zephyr became a beacon of hope for state residents and LGBTQ+ Americans everywhere.

Her speech on 18 April, in which she said that bill SB99 was “tantamount to torture“, was described by activists as yet another example of that.

Following the protest on Monday, she said in a statement: “What you heard today is people standing up for democracy. People standing to let their voices be heard on that House floor.

“What you’re watching here, is people who do not want to see democracy in action.

“They want to strip us of our rights and it’s not enough for them to get the harmful bills through – when someone stands up and calls out their bills for the harm they cause, they want silence.”

Following news of the vote, she said: “I will do as I have always done – rise on behalf of my constituents, in defence of my community, and for democracy itself.”

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